THE state of Barry’s beaches has hit home after signs were put up around one of the most popular places to swim advising people not to enter the water.

Vale Council has put up signs around Watch House Bay beach advising people not to swim due to poor water classification.

Barry and District News contacted Welsh Water and Natural Resources Wales about Watch House Bay’s poor water rating. Welsh Water revealed it doesn't know the reason  Wales’ national water company don’t actually know the source of whatever has lowered the water quality.

Similar signage is to be installed further down the Vale at Ogmore-by-sea as the newly designated bathing water was given a poor classification following sampling during the 2023 bathing season.

Barry And District News: Signs advising people of poor water quality at Watch House BaySigns advising people of poor water quality at Watch House Bay (Image: Newsquest)

This week, local open water swimming groups and key representatives of NRW and Dŵr Cymru met to discuss how Vale Council is actively addressing water quality issues at the bay.

The Watchtower Waders, Barry Blue Tits, Cold Knap (Rhondda) Lifeguard Club, Surfers Against Sewage, Rhoose Lifeguards, Rhwster Bluelips, Island SUP and Whitmore Bay Surf Lifesaving Club all attended the meeting which was chaired by Miles Punter, director of environment and housing.

On that meeting, Cllr Mark Wilson, cabinet member for neighbourhood and building services, said: “In the case of Watch House Bay, the application last year for designation was made by the council in part to establish its water quality as this begins the Natural Resources Wales testing process.

“Clearly the results were not what we had hoped for or expected. We have since undertaken investigation work with regulating body NRW and other agencies in an effort to identify the cause and improve water quality and are pleased to be able to share this and our plans for the bay."

Barry And District News: The beautiful Watch House Bay, but what is in the water?The beautiful Watch House Bay, but what is in the water? (Image: Newsquest)

Read more: NRW look at Barry beaches water quality facing decline

Previously, Cllr Ruba Sivagnanam, cabinet member for community engagement, said: “These results are not what we had hoped for or expected and show big fluctuations in water quality.

“Even though the vast majority of samples taken at both locations were deemed excellent, on a small number of occasions there were high readings for certain bacteria.

“Unfortunately, this testing does not determine the reason for poor water quality.

“There are a number of natural factors and potential pollutants that could affect the situation."

Barry And District News: Watch House Bay (red box) poor water quality / Whitmore Bay (green box right) good / Cold Knap excellent water qualityWatch House Bay (red box) poor water quality / Whitmore Bay (green box right) good / Cold Knap excellent water quality (Image: Google Maps)

Barry And District News: There was a meeting on the state of the water at the beachThere was a meeting on the state of the water at the beach (Image: Newsquest)

Natural Resources Wales results for bathing waters in the Vale of Glamorgan 2023:

  • Cold Knap (Barry) - Excellent
  • Vale of Glamorgan - Excellent
  • Col-Huw Beach (Llantwit Major) - Excellent
  • Penarth Beach - Good
  • Whitmore Bay (Barry) - Good
  • Jackson’s Bay (Barry) - Sufficient
  • Watch House Bay (Barry) - Poor
  • Ogmore-by-Sea – Poor

Alison Woolcock, from the Watch Tower Waders, said: “While we understand as a group that the Vale Council cannot recommend swimming at Watchtower due to last year’s poor readings, we will continue to swim, but will use the useful apps provided by Dwr Cymru and Natural Resources Wales to make it as safe as possible.”

Bathing signs have been installed at both Watch House Bay and Ogmore-by-sea Beach for 2024, however the beaches remain open for people to enjoy, with the council saying they are committed to collaborating with NRW, Dŵr Cymru, and relevant organisations to improve water quality at these beaches.

A Welsh Water spokesperson said: "We take the important role that we - along with others - have to play in protecting bathing water quality seriously.  We have already invested over a billion pounds to protect bathing water quality which is part of the reason Wales now enjoys around a quarter of the UK’s Blue Flag beaches while having only 15% of the coastline."

While the reason for the failure at Watch House Bay is currently unknown, we are committed to working collaboratively with all agencies involved to establish the cause.

Have you seen these signs? What do you think about them? Have you had a dip in Watch House Bay? What do you think about the state of the beaches in Barry?

Let us know, emailing

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